Friday, 19 June 2015

Sempervivum spider

I discovered this spider, Pisaura mirabilis, on a houseleek rosette in our garden this morning.  She is carrying a globular egg sack beneath her front and seems well distguised.

Even more so from the side:

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Assorted observations


Sempervivum calcareum ‘Limelight’.  This seems to be a very good doer and, so far, has grown very vigorously without any afflictions.                                                          

DSCN3293[9]The rosette at the bottom of the picture on left shows the plant trying to escape from the confines of a rather overcrowded pot.  Did a root squeeze through one of the drainage holes and develop into a rosette to start a life on its own?The rosette at the bottom of the picture on right shows the plant trying to escape from the confines of a rather overcrowded pot.  Did a root squeeze through one of the drainage holes and develop into a rosette to start a life on its own?


This is the first seedling I ever selected now grown to quite a large size and with one rosette starting to run up into flower.  The brother and seedling sisters were a very varied bunch so, if I save seed from this one, I might get even more complex variations.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A problem with Anaemia

I have a very pale seedling which seemed to have been doing very well, but now is developing pale brown spots on its leaves and, I think, may not be long for this world (unless I can rescue some of the several offsets).


When I showed it to my granddaughter the other day, she said “it looks a bit anaemic” so, if it survives and thrives, I might try to name it Sempervivum ‘Anaemia’.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sudden rosette death

Occasionally and apparently healthy rosette on one or another of my houseleeks will suddenly turn yellow or orange and die very quickly, over just a few days.  Rosettes nearby are unaffected.  The affliction does not spread from a given point: the whole rosette suddenly capitulates.

Below is an example on Sempervivum ‘Sir William Lawrence’ with one rosette affected

DSCN3206 Sepervivum Lawrence diseased rosette

I would be grateful if anyone can tell me what this condition is, though I somehow doubt there is any way of stopping it and it only affects single rosette a few times each year..

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Some of my seedlings

Over the last several years I have raised hundreds of seedlings from plants in my collection and am now able to select the betters ones that are not only interesting colours, but have good habits of growth and seem to do well in our rather damp climate.  I am, for the moment, giving them numbers (I am not sure how one goes about officially naming a new hybrid or checking that the name is not already in use elsewhere.

This one is 20140430 SV, SV standing for South View, the name of our house:


The rosette is quite large with an open, bowl shape like a water lily flower.  The next one is 20120616 SV has smaller, but very neat rosettes with a dark centre contrasting with the outside leaves:


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Still more on lacrimae rerum

It rained last night and this morning many houseleek rosettes were sparkling with water drops.

This cultivar is called 'Virgil', the name of the Roman poet who wrote the phrase  sunt lacrimae rerum, 'there are tears in things'.

20130818 Sempervivum Virgil rain (58)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

More on Moore

The other day I posted about Sempervivum 'Pastel' and its variants and added some information about its breeder, Nicholas Moore, who was also, in his day, a well-known poet and philosopher as well as a horticulturalist.  In addition to 'Pastel' he raised other good quality houseleek cultivars many of which are still on the market today.  Sometime I will try to compile a list.

After writing my earlier post I tried to find examples of Moore's poetry on the Internet and finished up buying a slim volume entitled Lacrimae Rerum containing his last poems.  On the cover there is a delightful illustration by Juliet Moore that includes a Sempervivum in flower.

Lacrimae rerum cover Nicholas Moore

For those unfamiliar with the title, it is taken from a famous line in Virgil's Aeneid written between 29 and 19 BC.  The whole line reads sunt lacrimae rerum: mentem mortalia tangunt and there have been many attempts to translate it or to find words in other languages to give the full sense of what the Latin means (though one translation could not possibly do this).  I always think of lacrimae rerum as signifying there are 'tears in things' (tears in the sense of drops that run down your cheeks), the knowledge that everything is temporary, doomed to fade to extinction.  However wonderful a plant or a person or a galaxy they are destined to pass away and this tempers the joy of now with a sadness, the metaphorical 'tears'.  This embodied sadness provokes the imagination to reflect that the present is moving inexorably towards some universal oblivion.  Or is it?  Sempervivum is Latin too and means 'always alive', a fact of which, no doubt, Nicholas Moore was well aware.